There and Back Again
My trip to Satish Dhawan Space Centre (ISRO)
I was watching the launch of the PSLV C53 on youtube.
I was like "Hey! I was there".
I visited Satish Dhawan Space Centre which is the launch site of the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) in April 2022. It felt great visiting SDSC but I didn't realize the grandness of the legendary place till I watched the launch.
So, I thought I would share my journey and experiences.
Our college organised the trip to SDSC. So naturally, they wanted me to get permission from my parents to go. I decided to use part of my Internship stipend as trip expenses so getting permission from my mom was easy and as for the forms... I got "my mom" to sign it. The tour was planned on the dates 26, 27 and 28th April. We start from Guntur which is 30 km away from my hometown Tenali on the 25th evening.
So I packed my bags and started for Guntur with some of my friends who are also from Tenali.
A Few Years Later...
We all reached Guntur on time and met some other friends. We were all waiting for the buses to arrive and then we realized that tomorrow is the birthday of one of our friends. We quickly went to a nearby bakery and got a cake. We were worried that buses will leave before we can board. Little did we know we were going to wait for buses to arrive for some MORE time. It felt like an eternity waiting...
So... A Few Years Later...
Finally, the buses arrived, we boarded them and... we waited for some more time for the buses to move. Finally, the buses moved and stopped at a food court for dinner.
I want Space
As soon as we got off the bus at the food court, we celebrated our friend's birthday with the cake we got earlier. Then the struggle begins... Took us 30 mins to place our order for food and took another 20 mins to get served. And 5 of my friends got a table and one of our accompanying faculty handed me my mobile. I was a bit confused about why he was giving me my phone back... Then I realized that my phone went missing in the crowd and I didn't even notice it. After I got my mobile... It's time to get on the bus again. So we quickly finished our meal and got on the bus.
The bus started moving again... We were talking, cracking jokes, blasting music... some of us danced (Seriously, got to see some of the best moves).
Then I put my own music in my earphones and tried to nod off (I did Nod off). Mid sleep I woke up and my legs are in hell. I am taller than an average person and the seats on the bus had too little leg space.
I put my legs on top of the seat that's in front of me (with permission of course)...
I wanted that space so bad.
We reached our lodging early in the morning near Tirupathi. I forgot the name of the place... so let's call it a hotel. We got our rooms which we settled in pretty quick. Then I took a shower and got ready to set out again.
After having breakfast we started again... After a while, we reached Talakona which is famous for its waterfall. We got off the bus and to reach the waterfalls we had to go on foot into the forest and mountains. You can call it "kinda Hiking". We encountered some monkeys on the way. The girls are afraid to death 😂. Some of us boys even tried to scare girls by making monkey noises (No, I'm not part of that 😉). After all, Men will be men. On a different note... We were scared of monkeys too.
After walking quite a distance under the hot sun... (When a South Indian says it's hot... it's HOT. Both food and weather) we reached the waterfall.
The minute we saw the waterfalls we decided that we are going to swim. The path that goes to the waterfall is so slippery that some of us almost broke our backs slipping. The whole situation is PATH BREAKING backs.
I got into some shallow waters and started pretending that I know how to swim. But, my friends figured out that I'm afraid of water and dragged me in... In fact, they were holding me tight so that I don't slip and fall. The water was so cold (When a South Indian says something is cold... It's lukewarm. JK, The water was freezing). We did all kinds of goofy things in the water like playing, fighting and posing for pictures.
What the Fort?
Who doesn't get hungry after playing for so long in the water, It was lunchtime and we ate our meals still keeping an eye out for the monkeys. Then the journey starts again.
The next destination was Chandragiri Fort which is a tourist attraction in that area.
It's a historic place (The history I didn't know) that turned into a destination for Pre-Wedding Shoots.
The sun already set by the time we left the fort.
On the way to the hotel, we also visited a temple.
We were back at the hotel, freshen up and went out for dinner. We found a good Arabic restaurant nearby and enjoyed some good food. Got back to the hotel again and hit the hay.
Hey!! It's day 2.
The next destination was Kalyani Dam. To get to the dam we had to walk through a police training academy, situated next to the dam. After reaching the dam, we had to walk up some stairs. Damn, were those stairs hard... It looked like a dam from colonial or post-colonial times the stairs are old and narrow. We got up somehow and Damn is the scenery beautiful...
Getting down those stairs was even harder than getting up.
Then we started for the next destination which was Horsley Hills. It's a group of hills. Since we are at a higher altitude the atmosphere is mildly chilly.
If you know anything about the roads that access mountains... They are narrow and twisted. The higher we go the scary it becomes. Even if we try not to look down... We just happen to take a glance.
It was so far away from the Dam it was already evening by the time we went there. We thought we would not see anything once the sunset. To our surprise... with us being there just in time for sunset this was the most beautiful place I've seen on the whole trip.
It was night before we knew it. And one of us got a Bluetooth speaker and blasted the song Naatu Naatu (or Naacho Naacho in Hindi). One of us did a little choreography or showed some moves so that everyone can dance for it together.
Now, the challenge of getting down the twisty road but it's dark now. After that exhilarating feat. We got to a place to have dinner. The place is pitch dark with light in only one place. We ate dinner as fast as possible and retook the speaker, went into the dark place and played the batman theme at max vol 😂. (No we're not weird!!).
By the time we reached the hotel again, it was already the next day (maybe 2 AM) and we got a satisfactory sleep (of 2 hrs). We woke up early in the morning, got ready and went to the bus. We realized that we were late and everyone was waiting for us. Apparently one of our roommates takes half an hour to get ready.
It's D day and we started for SDSC. It was a long journey but fell short as we were chatting along the way. We reached the SDSC and we were waiting in the HOT weather for confirmation from SDSC personnel for us to enter. We were told to get our luggage out of the buses and our bags went through thorough checking. Then the buses were checked before entering through the main gate.
After entering through the main gate... we waited some more... How long did you ask? We don't know. We lost track of time.
Then we were taken to a place to deposit our luggage, computers, mobiles and other electronics. Then we went into an auditorium where we watched a short movie about the history of Indian Space Research. There was also another college visiting SDSC with us from Tamil Nadu. They were in the auditorium by the time we went there. The room was brimming with masculinity... We went and asked, "Are there only boys in your college?". They were like... "Bro we're Mechanical Engineers" (An inside joke that you wouldn't understand unless you're an Indian or an engineer).
We were approached by a person from ISRO he took us on a tour inside SDSC... But before that. There is another check post where we have to get off the bus and went through individual checking.
We visited two launch towers, the Vehicle Assembly building and Mission Control (Yeah!... the same thing we see in videos).
He explained systems functioning there and addressed all of our ridiculous doubts with "Good Question!" and answered patiently. The sight I came across that takes a special place in my memory is the Sea we saw on the way to the launch pad. The shore was so beautiful, I felt bad that it was not a beach. Maybe it's beautiful because people are not allowed there.
The most awesome thing is... The place where we see rockets launch from... we were there... we touched that... we sat there... The experience was unreal.
After the tour, we got our mobiles back (Finally!!) and visited the museum over there that showcased Indian Space History...
C# to C the Sea
Just like that... The SDSC was over and we started our journey back. But something didn't feel quite right... Then there it was... we were at a beach. But it was already night and we couldn't see the Sea. But darkness can't stop us! We decided we will just step into the sea and come back. But one of our friends had a different idea. He dredged us in water like we dredge Idly in Sambar (A South Indian delicacy). It was nice playing in the water and enjoyed it a lot.
After getting wet... changing clothes was enough struggle and getting rid of sand was a challenge on top of it. We had our last supper together and started for Guntur.
We were home by morning... We went to Tenali from there.
As much as I enjoyed the journey... Nothing feels as right as our home.
Home, Sweet Home
That was one of my memorable journeys and I can write a lot about it! But this is it.
Thank you for reading this long story.
PS: I am grateful to our college and department of Electronics and Communication Engineering for making this trip a reality.